The Victim and Witness Assistance Program

The Victim and Witness Assistance Program is of paramount importance to the Navy and the JAG Corps. Victims and witnesses have the right to be treated with fairness and respect and to be reasonably protected from the offender.

If you are a victim or witness of a crime, you should contact the local installation victim and witness assistance coordinator or liaison for assistance. Find your local installation here

To make a complaint:

If you are considering filing a complaint with the Navy Inspector General review the 4 Step Hotline Complaint Procedure.

To locate your local Navy Inspector General Click Here.

Sexual Assault Victims:

MyDuty.mil Home Page

CNIC Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Home Page

RESOURCES

DODD - DODD 1030.1, April 13, 2004

DODI - DODI 1030.2, June 4, 2004

SECNAVINST - SECNAVIST 5800.11B, January 5, 2006

OPNAVINST - OPNAVIST 5800.7A, March 4, 2008

JAG/CNLSC - JAG/COMNAVLEGSVCCOMINST 5800.4A

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are “Captain’s Mast,” “NJP,” and “Office Hours”?

A. Nonjudicial Punishment (NJP), also referred to as “Captain’s Mast” (Navy & Coast Guard), “Office Hours” (USMC) and “Article 15” (Army and Air Force), is a relatively informal and low-level forum for handling minor misconduct. Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), located in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM), explains what constitutes “minor” misconduct and the basics of this process. It can be imposed by a commanding officer (CO) and specifically designated officers in charge. We encourage area service members to come into our offices for legal advice if they are facing possible legal action by their command. Please refer to the list of rights presented below.

Nonjudicial Punishment Rights (“Booker Rights”)

  • You have the right to refuse mast (unless attached to or embarked on a vessel). See Article 15, UCMJ.
  • You have the right to confer with an independent attorney.
  • You have the right to appear personally before the CO or OIC.
  • You have the right to be informed of your Article 31b, UCMJ rights. (See above.)
  • You have the right to be accompanied by a spokesperson. This is a person you want to speak on your behalf — a spokesperson is different than having a witness present.
  • You have the right to be informed of the evidence against you relating to the offense.
  • You have the right to examine all evidence upon which the CO will rely in deciding about whether and how much NJP to impose.
  • You have the right to present matters in defense, extenuation and/or mitigation, orally, in writing or both.
  • You have the right to have witnesses present. The accused is generally the one who must arrange for the witnesses to attend
  • You have the right to appeal a CO’s decision at mast. See Article 15(e), UCMJ for details. In general you can appeal on the grounds the punishment was unjust or disproportionate. The appeal should be “prompt” (within five days) and directed to the next superior authority via the “proper channels” (chain of command). See Part V of the MCM for “set aside” procedures where “a clear injustice” has occurred.

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Q. What is an Arraignment?

A. An arraignment is a formal court hearing where the charges are read to the accused by the trial counsel, unless the reading is waived by the accused. The accused is then asked to enter pleas to the charges and plead guilty or not guilty to the charges referred against him/her, or preserve the option and reserve pleas for a later date.

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Q. What is a Summary Court-Martial?

A. A summary court-martial is a disciplinary proceeding meant to adjudicate minor offenses with a simple procedure.

  • A summary court-martial is not considered a "criminal prosecution" within the meaning of the 6th Amendment.
  • An accused does not have a right to be represented by military defense counsel at the proceeding, but the accused will be given the opportunity to consult with an attorney beforehand.
  • The accused will generally be permitted to retain a civilian defense attorney unless military exigencies prevent it.
  • The summary court-martial will be composed of a single commissioned officer. The government will not be represented by a prosecutor.
  • A summary court-martial is not permitted if the accused objects to that forum . Maximum punishments for E-4 and below: reduction to E-1, forfeiture of 2/3 pay for one month, and either 60 days of restriction, 45 days of hard labor without confinement, or 30 days confinement.
  • Maximum punishments for E-5 and above: reduction of one grade, forfeiture of 2/3 pay for one month, and 60 days of restriction.
  • Officers cannot be tried at a summary court-martial.

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Q. What is a Special Court-Martial?

A. A special court-martial is a federal criminal trial composed of a military judge and at least three jury members (although the accused can also choose to be tried by judge alone).

A conviction at a special court-martial is akin to a misdemeanor conviction in a civilian criminal court. The maximum punishment that can be adjudged is confinement for 12 months, forfeiture of two-thirds pay per month for 12 months, reduction in rank, and a bad conduct discharge.

The accused has the right to be represented by an appointed military defense counsel. The accused also has the right to retain a civilian counsel at no cost to the government.

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Q. What is a General Court-Martial?

A. A military court with the power to try all offenses punishable under the UCMJ. It is composed of not less than five members or, per the request of the accused, by a military judge alone. It is reserved for more serious crimes, those substantially similar to felonies in civilian jurisdictions. Again, the accused has the right to be represented by an appointed military defense counsel. The accused also has the right to retain a civilian counsel at no cost to the government.

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Q. What is a convening authority?

A. The convening authority's responsibilities are set forth in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and include referring charges to courts-martial, designating members to serve as a jury, funding the proceedings, and reviewing the outcome. The convening authority is a commissioned officer in command who has the authority to order a Court-Martial into existence and to refer charges against a service member for trial by that Court-Martial.

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Q. What is/are an Administrative Separation Board and/or Board of Inquiry?

A. Administrative Separation Boards (Admin Boards) and Boards of Inquiry (BOIs) are administrative hearings at which a service member may be processed for an administrative discharge.  They are similar in some ways to courts-martial, they are solely administrative and not punitive in nature. Like a court-martial, it is an adversarial proceeding, meaning the government can present its case, and the service member (“respondent”) can present his case. At an Admin Board or BOI, the respondent has several important rights, including the right to be represented by a detailed military attorney, the right to a civilian attorney at no expense to the government, the right to call witnesses, the right to present evidence, the right to challenge the evidence against him, and the right to remain silent. The Military Rules of Evidence generally do not apply to boards and a board’s decisions about whether misconduct occurred are based upon a preponderance of the evidence standard. Admin Boards are for enlisted personnel and are governed by Chapter 19 of the Naval Military Personnel Manual (MILPERSMAN) for the Navy, Chapter 12 of the Coast Guard Personnel Manual or the Marine Corps Enlisted Separations Manual (MARCORSEPMAN) for the Marine Corps. BOIs are governed by SECNAVINST 1920.6C.

If a service member was found guilty at a prior mast proceeding, then the board is NOT bound by that finding. If a service person was convicted at a court-martial or by a civilian court, and is being processed for separation on the basis of the same underlying misconduct, the board IS bound by the misconduct determination. However, the board is still free to decide whether separation is warranted and, if so, what characterization of discharge should be awarded. Though the proceeding is considered non-punitive, there is no question that the consequences of administrative separation with certain characterizations of service can have significant negative consequences regarding loss of virtually all veteran’s benefits, retirement pay (if retirement eligible), civilian employment and inability to reenlist or hold some government jobs or security clearances. Types of discharge possible at an Admin Board or BOI range from Honorable to General (Under Honorable Conditions), to Other Than Honorable (OTH).

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Q. What is an Article 32 Investigation?

A. Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), requires a thorough and impartial investigation of charges and specifications before they may be referred to a general court-martial (the most serious level of courts-martial). However, the accused may waive the Article 32 investigation requirement.

At an Article 32 hearing an appointed "investigating officer" hears evidence presented by the government and defense, and recommends to the Convening Authority whether the accused should be tried at court-martial, what forum (general, special, or summary) is appropriate, and what charges should be referred against the accused.

The purpose of this pretrial investigation is to inquire into the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, to consider the form of the charges, and to secure information to determine what disposition should be made of the case in the interest of justice. The investigation also serves as a means of pretrial discovery for the accused and defense counsel in that the government's evidence is provided and witnesses who testify may be cross-examined.

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Q. How can I get a copy of the record of trial or any related documents?

A. The Office of the Judge Advocate General Criminal Law Division (Code 20) processes Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests concerning the military justice system and individual courts-martial and responds to requests for records of trial. Once the record of trial is complete, a request can be made to the Office of the Judge Advocate General Code 20 at:

Office of the Judge Advocate General
Criminal Law Division (Code 20)
1014 N St., SE, Suite 401
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5011
E-mail address: FOIAMILJUS@navy.mil

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Q. What is the appeal process?

A. If an accused is convicted at a court-martial, the record of trial is reviewed in different ways, depending on the severity of the sentence imposed. At a minimum, the record is reviewed by a Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) before the verdict and sentence may be approved by the CA. The CA retains the option in each case of disapproving or reducing the severity of the findings or sentence.

In cases in which a punitive discharge or a sentence to confinement of one year or more is approved, the case is automatically appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) (for all Navy and USMC accused). The accused is represented by appellate military counsel free of charge. While all appellate courts have the power to review matters of law, the NMCCA has fact-finding power and, if the court is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused, it has the power to overturn the finding of guilty and any sentence imposed.

If the accused desires, he may appeal decisions of the NMCCA to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). This court is composed of five civilian judges appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 15-year terms. An accused can challenge decisions of the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces by asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a grant of certiorari.

Alternatively, if the accused has been convicted at a general court-martial and was not sentenced to a punitive discharge or more than one year of confinement, the case will be reviewed by the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The JAG has the discretion to modify or set aside the findings and sentence. The JAG also has the authority to order rehearings.

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